Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
Today is Halloween, a day we celebrate with pumpkins, orange lights, fake graveyards, goblins, ghosts and other ghouls. Children (and adults) will dress up and wander from house to house getting candy. Parties are held, horror movies are watched and generally a good time is had by all.
But Halloween is really far more than watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and eating too many peanut butter cups. It is All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Saints Day.
The Feast of All Saints is a day set aside to remember all those who have gone before us and are in God’s presence. In the early church, the saints were remembered on the day of their death (or rebirth into Heaven), but after a while (and a lot of martyrs due to the Roman persecution of the church), it was difficult to celebrate individual saints and the church created one special day.
Many churches use this day (or the Sunday nearest) as a remembrance of all who died during the previous year. It can also be a day for us to remember our family members who have passed.
Losing loved ones is always hard but as we remember them we know that ultimately the mourning, crying and pain will be taken away and God will truly wipe our tears from our eyes.
This year, have fun on Halloween, then on Tuesday celebrate the loved ones that have gone before you.
Bless those who mourn, eternal God, with the comfort of your love that they may face each new day with hope and the certainty that nothing can destroy the good that has been given.
May their memories become joyful, their days enriched with friendship, and their lives encircled by your love. Amen.
Vienna Cobb Anderson, from Prayers of Our Hearts (1991, Crossroad Publishing Co.)